This weekend, the cast of “Peter Pan” will attempt to transport audiences to Neverland, a world where growing up isn’t necessary and sword fights are. In this imaginary world, children can fly and mermaids and Indians coexist. This magical show starts at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday, April 16 at the Forest Roberts Theater.
According to Shelley Russell, who has been directing plays like “Rent” and “Beauty and the Beast” at Northern for the past 28 years, a few factors played into the decision to take on “Peter Pan” as her next directing project.
“Usually when I am looking at shows that I want to do next year, I’m looking at our actors and thinking about what they need to work on and what we could produce with the technical staff and actors that we have,” said Russell. “Our technical director had just taken a seminar in stage flight so we decided that it would be a great time to do ‘Peter Pan,’ and it’s just too much fun. I just decided that it was time to play.”
Russell said that many of the student actors relate to many of the general themes of this play, which is why they enjoy working on it.
“This is a show that is about not wanting to grow up and about playing. Its about how grown-ups forget how to play and take things stupidly serious and get embroiled in things that they really don’t know about anyway. The students that have been working on this have just had a blast.”
Originally written by J. M. Barrie, this version of “Peter Pan” is not the Disney movie or Broadway musical version that most people are familiar with. The original play has been described as having a darker sort of humor.
“It is definitely not a musical, and this isn’t a girl playing the boy and prancing around. This is a very muscular and athletic version of the show. Our pirates are real pirates. We have a terrific athlete playing the role of Peter Pan, and the technical effects and characterizations are a little more grown up, which is funny because Peter Pan is about not growing up,” Russell said.
Michael Skrobeck, a theater major and a junior at Northern, said that they wanted to stick to the traditional version of the play. However, they did take some creative initiative with the interpretation of one group of characters.
“We want to keep it traditional, and we want to make sure (Barrie’s) creativity is in our work and just make sure that if he were here watching, he’d be proud of our play. We do have a few parts of the play that are not traditional. For example, the Indians are not Native Americans, but instead they are actually from India. We wanted to take a different approach,” Skrobeck said.
Skrobeck plays a character named Panther who is a very protective Indian. He said, though it’s a small role, he still has fun playing it.
“I can just have fun up there and I can dance around. I love to do the motions and the dance on the stage,” Skrobeck said.
“Peter Pan” is playing at the Forest Roberts Theater Wednesday, April 13 through Saturday, April 16 at 7:30 p.m. with a 1 p.m. matinee on April 16. Tickets are $8 with an NMU student ID or $12 for the general public. For more information, contact the Forest Roberts Theater at (906) 227-2028.